AIN’T NO SUNSHINE: Gliding through the air, junior Ellie Loudermilk (Fastrada) performs the number “Spread a Little Sunshine,”  in which her character’s true motives are revealed.

“​​That specific move is to show off all of Fastrata’s assets that allow her to manipulate the king and Pippin,” Loudermilk said.

In the song, Fastrada, stepmother to Pippin and wife to King Charles, facilitates events that will allow for her son, Lewis, to become next in line for the throne.

“Spread a little sunshine is a number where you get to truly see the mastermind at work,” Loudermilk said. “In the song, she convinces Pippin to kill his father so her darling son can become king. I like the number because I feel like I’m letting the audience into the secret, or rather to the master plan.”

For Loudermilk, this number is the pinnacle of Fastrada’s storyline and allows the audience to understand what makes her character tick.

“Fastrata is the calculated stepmother that uses her body to get what she wants, mostly from King Charles,” Loudermilk said. “The only people she cares about are her son Lewis and, above all, herself.”

Reporting by Alice Scott.
AIN’T NO SUNSHINE: Gliding through the air, junior Ellie Loudermilk (Fastrada) performs the number “Spread a Little Sunshine,” in which her character’s true motives are revealed. “​​That specific move is to show off all of Fastrata’s assets that allow her to manipulate the king and Pippin,” Loudermilk said. In the song, Fastrada, stepmother to Pippin and wife to King Charles, facilitates events that will allow for her son, Lewis, to become next in line for the throne. “Spread a little sunshine is a number where you get to truly see the mastermind at work,” Loudermilk said. “In the song, she convinces Pippin to kill his father so her darling son can become king. I like the number because I feel like I’m letting the audience into the secret, or rather to the master plan.” For Loudermilk, this number is the pinnacle of Fastrada’s storyline and allows the audience to understand what makes her character tick. “Fastrata is the calculated stepmother that uses her body to get what she wants, mostly from King Charles,” Loudermilk said. “The only people she cares about are her son Lewis and, above all, herself.” Reporting by Alice Scott.
Gergő Major

A new queen of ‘The Prom’

Senior lands lead role in professional production at ZACH Theatre

Senior Ellie Loudermilk never saw herself playing a lead role at ZACH Theatre, but when she saw that there was an audition for the part of Emma in the musical The Prom, she decided to give it a shot.

“I actually auditioned on a whim because I love this show,” Loudermilk said. “The further I got into the audition the more I fell in love with the idea of playing Emma.”

The further I got into the audition the more I fell in love with the idea of playing Emma.

— senior lead Ellie Loudermilk

Loudermilk has been a part of the ZACH Pre-Professional Company since the end of August, but Loudermilk started with the company earlier to prepare for her college auditions.

When Loudermilk found out that she got the role of Emma, she felt multiple emotions all at once.

“When I first got the role, I was filled with pure excitement,” Loudermilk said. “And then shock and fear after seeing the tedious schedule.”

In order to be ready to play Emma, Loudermilk had to come up with a way to balance schoolwork and production work.  Loudermilk had rehearsals starting at 2 p.m., which ended at 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and on the weekends her rehearsals went from 11 a.m- 11 p.m.

Loudermilk playing the Evil Queen from Snow White in the 2023 fall musical, Descendants. (Meredith Grotevant)

“I have absolutely no idea how I am going to manage it all,” Loudermilk said before the rehearsals began. “Since I have Mondays off, I am going to try to do everything for the week, but it’s going to be really hard considering that I am taking four AP classes.”

Loudermilk felt a personal connection to Emma because the character is the only lesbian at her school, fighting for the opportunity to get a prom where she is welcomed. Loudermilk sees Emma as resilient and powerful, able to face adversity alone.

Even if anyone in the audience isn’t a lesbian, I think this story is very important because it shows that no one is alone, no matter how much it seems like it.

— Loudermilk

”As a lesbian myself this story means a lot to me that she is able to fight for what she deserves even if everyone says she doesn’t deserve it,” Loudermilk said. “Even if anyone in the audience isn’t a lesbian, I think this story is very important because it shows that no one is alone, no matter how much it seems like it.”

Loudermilk credited MacTheatre with helping her learn what it means to be a good ensemble member, a skill which helped her create a character that is different than anyone who has ever performed that role.

“Being in the ensemble at MAC taught me to figure out my relationship to every person in the cast and how to show that without making it steal focus from the main action,” Loudermilk said.

Loudermilk said that starring in The Prom taught her what it is like in a professional acting setting, and that she can learn about the business side of acting from her adult castmates.

“The director is incredible and highly regarded, so I already know that I will learn so much from her,” Loudermilk said before production started. “I will also learn how to handle a ton of responsibility on my back and hopefully make myself proud.”

Loudermilk believes that this experience helped her gain confidence as she braces for the world of professional theatre in college.

She is always confident in her abilities and knows her worth, which is an incredible and valuable quality in theatre.

— sophomore Maggie Brown

“I think it will help my confidence knowing that it is possible for me to hold this much responsibility,” Loudermilk said. “It keeps giving me the ‘Why not me?’ mentality, which has gotten me through the college process.”

Her younger MacTheatre peers see Loudermilk as an inspiration. Sophomore Maggie Brown said that Loudermilk has taught her how to stay true to herself and her talent even through the harsh opinions and criticism that are often a part of the theatre industry.

“She is always confident in her abilities and knows her worth, which is an incredible and valuable quality in theater,” Brown said. “Ellie is a great example of trusting in your own hard work.”

Observing Loudermilk in the Mac productions they have been in together, Brown has learned from Loudermilk’s ability to adapt and play any character.

”Ellie is always willing to play new roles that challenge the characters she’s played before,” Brown said. “I think that’s a reminder to me about how important versatility is.”


 

Last year Loudermilk performed in a production, Cows the Moosical, which was composed and music-directed by Brown. During this production, Loudermilk really showed how to adapt to daily changes and still put on an authentic performance.

“The process took a lot of willingness from the performers since they would be given notes and new material up until the night of the first performance,” Brown said.

Ellie’s confidence is a great quality and great example for younger performers.

— Brown

Brown believes that Loudermilk’s confidence is exceptional and contagious, making her an exemplary performer and castmate.

“Ellie’s confidence is a great quality and a great example for younger performers,” Brown said. “Also her ability to commit to each character she plays really helps her transform into her roles and give the audience a dedicated performance [that is] cleverly shown.”

Senior Olive Green has witnessed Loudermilk’s positive impact on the whole theater program from the begin-ning. Green and Loudermilk became friends freshman year after house managing the spring play. From that moment, they have become inseparable.

Greene said that Loudermilk is one of the smartest people she has ever met.

“She’s got this academic and problem solver kind of smarts, which is how she manages all the millions of things she does: school, rehearsals, et cetera, but then on top of that she’s one of the most emotionally intelligent people I know,” Greene said. “She manages to exude energy, joy and fun while juggling a crazy schedule.”

It’s so hard not to love her because her energy is very authentic and unique.

— senior Olive Greene

Greene also admires Loudermilk for her talent and, most of all, her creativity.

“She’s the definition of ‘read between the lines,’” Greene said. “She loves to put her own spin on any character she plays, and it’s really natural for her to come up with different interpretations of scenes that make them so much funnier and more compelling.”

Over the past four years Greene has watched Loudermilk grow into a mature and seasoned performer. She says that Loudermilk is very self-assured, which is demonstrated in her performances.

“I’ve really watched her develop her sense of self,” Greene said. “Since freshman year, she’s grown into such a strong personal identity that she doesn’t compromise on any circumstance, which has given her a lot of ambition and drive for things she cares about.”

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